Prestige Credit Cards: Not Just for the Rich and Famous Anymore
Written by Curtis Arnold
Posted On: May 3, 2007
The first and considered by many to be the most exclusive prestige credit card is the American Express Centurion, reportedly for people who charge at least $250,000 a year. Available by invitation only, the card is so exclusive, it's hard to get reliable information about it!
What's clear is that Centurion is for wealthy people who travel frequently, shop at high end stores, and are used to receiving VIP treatment. Stories about the rich and famous who use Centurion abound. There are free companion airline tickets, free upgrades to first class, special deals with hotels, personal shoppers at stores like Saks and Gucci, travel planning and concierge services, as well as bonuses and rewards galore. Starting this May, there's going to be a $5,000 initiation fee … to be followed by annual fees of $2,500. (Curious to know what cardholders have to say? Click here.)
If by some chance you don't qualify for Centurion – and wouldn't want it even if you could – you're not alone! According to industry estimates, there are only about 10,000 Centurions out there.
Is There a Prestige Credit Card in Your Reach?
Both MasterCard and Visa have prestige credit cards that are marketed as Visa Signature Cards and World MasterCards. These cards have lots of enhanced benefits, geared to more typical cardholders – at no additional cost. Surprised? Don't be. Card issuers are in fierce competition, and they want business so badly, they are dangling bigger and better carrots in front of us.
Like Amex's Centurion, these cards offer tons of benefits for frequent flyers and spenders, including hotel discounts and upgrades, rebates on travel, extra travel insurance, points good for free flights with no blackout dates, VIP reservations at expensive restaurants, special discounts at stores and spas, early ticket purchasing for concerts and sporting events, flexible, generous rewards … and on and on.
Chances are, you already have a credit card issued by a lender that would be happy to give you Visa Signature or World MasterCard privileges – assuming your credit is good to excellent, you earn in the range of $125,000 a year, and you charge at least $2,000 a month. While the offers on individual cards change frequently, it's quite likely that you can find a card with an introductory rate of 0%, no annual fee or a low one (up to around $85), and as reasonable an interest rate as you'd get on cards without the extra benefits.
Surf over to these two sites and take a gander at the freebies you can get:
Warning: Don't let the lure of the extra benefits tempt you into charging more than you can afford. But if you do a lot of traveling for business, why not reap the enhanced rewards?
Do you have a prestige credit card? Please share with others the benefits you have used!
Curtis Arnold, a nationally recognized consumer educator and advocate, has been educating consumers about credit cards since 1998. New! Curtis is the author of "How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line" (FT Press, 2008). He is also the co-author of the upcoming Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending (Alpha Books/Pengiun Group USA, April 2009), a contribitor to The Ultimate Allowance (InnerWealth Publishing, 2008) and is extensively featured in 42 RulesTM for Driving Success With Books (Super Star Press, January 2009).